The Federation of Pan African Cinema, (FEPACI), held its 3rd session of the monthly Friends of FEPACI (FOF) forum at the SAB Centenary hall in Newtown on the 13th of June 2009. The Friends of FEPACI forum is a series of monthly events where attendees explore challenges and accomplishments within the audiovisual industry and the creative arts in general to collectively identify solutions, honour milestones and generally promote innovation within the sector, using film as a medium.

In June the FOF forum heard speakers address challenges facing filmmakers in SA as well as an address on the role of investors in the film industry.

In her presentation Senele Nkosi of Mahala Empowerment Media called upon financial institutions in the country to change their attitude and begin to invest in the film industry as was happening in countries like Canada and the USA. She asked rhetorically, "Independent filmmakers, how independent are we?" What really is the perspective of film in South Africa - is it seen as a profession or a hobby? Do we need to re-evaluate this industry to understand it? Why is it difficult for us to secure funding for stories that we know the world wants to hear?

Key speaker Modise Moatlhodi also reminded the audience that investors were concerned with a project's power to get an investment return; how risk free was the project; and how viable it is rather than its artistic value. Moatlhodi said a properly structured business plan was the key to attracting investors but a filmmaker must first understand the language of the investor and be able to meet its demands accordingly. "Unfortunately, this is the reality and there is nothing one can do about", he said. Moatlhodi is CEO of Moatlhodi Group which has over 30 years of business experience and investment in South Africa counting investments in financial services, ICT/Telecoms, health-care and wellness systems, training and development services.

FEPACI Secretary General Seipati Bulane-Hopa said that Africa had to move from a mentality of scarcity to that of prosperity as film brings about images of culture, which is the soul and identity of nations, key to the survival and heritage of Africa.

The same afternoon saw FEPACI Secretary General presenting the Award of Best Feature Film to Dr John Kani which he won for his film 'Nothing But The Truth' at the Ecrans Noir Film Festival held in Cameroon at the beginning of June this year. The Secretary General of FEPACI who attended the Ecrans Noir Festival, and who had been handed the award prior to her departure told guests at the Forum that she felt so overwhelmed and proud to have been the one to receive this award on behalf of Dr. Kani.

In his acceptance speech Dr. Kani told the full house that the South African government must fully recognise the needs of their own filmmakers and needs of all cultural practitioners.

While he lamented that money was difficult to access, he advised that South African filmmakers "have to learn the devil's mind if you want him to be on your side. We have to study their funding criteria, how they select and release funding." Dr Kani said that poor funding had continued to affect many filmmakers most of whom could only show numerous awards but nothing in bank balances. However, he also warned fellow filmmakers: "If we don't know what we are worth, nobody knows what we are worth."

He thanked FEPACI for creating the FOF and revealed to the attentive audience, "I do not know why I was not invited here before, I belong here," Dr John Kani enthused.